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Japanese lawyer comments on legality of tattoo ban at hot springs

85 Comments
By Scott Wilson, SoraNews24

Japan’s history with tattoos is quite different than many other countries. Criminals used to be punished with tattoos, and they’ve been a symbol of organized crime membership for generations. The stigma against tattoos in Japan is such that even innocent ones are often met with revile online.

However, as more of other countries’ influence has affected Japan, and more foreigners than ever are coming to visit each year, attitudes toward tattoos have been slowly changing.

One place where the discrimination against those with tattoos can still be felt as strongly as ever though, is at hot springs.

Not being able to visit a hot spring because of a tattoo can be disappointing for foreign visitors, and even though some places have loosened their restrictions, the no-tattoo policy is still the norm across the country.

But is it legal? That’s a question that hasn’t been asked much before, until one Japanese lawyer named Keita Adachi shared his thoughts on the matter with NicoNico News.

“In general, it’s up to stores and accommodations whether or not they allow people to use them. However, refusing service to anyone with a tattoo is unreasonable discrimination, and in the near future may be treated as possibly going against article 14 of the constitution and public order and morals.”

Article 14 of the Japanese constitution is all about equality, how discrimination based on “political, economic or social relations on account of race, creed, sex, social status, caste or national origin” is illegal.

Do tattoos fall under one of those categories? Keita argues that it doesn’t even necessarily matter.

“Either way, the reality is that there will be people who see tattoos as unpleasant, so hot springs could lend out swimwear, towels, or other coverings for them. They already do this for guests who want to cover up surgical scar or burns, so it doesn’t make sense for them not to allow the same for guests with tattoos. This also has the added benefit of making foreigners more comfortable if they’re not used to bathing naked with others.”

Keita’s argument does make sense logically, but culturally it may still be lacking, as evidenced by the reactions of Japanese online.

“This is Japan, so they should respect Japan’s culture of tattoos representing criminals and not wanting to bathe with criminals. Just like we would respect their cultures if we went to their countries.”

“The tattoo ban is a ban on yakuza. It’s not that Japan hates foreigners’ tattoo culture, we just hate the yakuza.”

“Stop trying to dilute Japan’s culture.”

“I mean someone with a tattoo can just go to a private bath. The ban is only at ones where you bathe with others.”

“Tattoos being a sign of a criminal, yakuza, or idiot is super helpful, I say we keep the system as it is.”

“Rather than us being understanding to them, they should be understanding to us.”

It still seems that by and large tattoos are still seen as negative. Despite what some of the netizens say, however, tattoos do affect people’s lives in more ways than just bathing publicly. Is this something that will, or even should change in time?

It’s hard to say, but one thing’s for sure: when the 2020 Tokyo Olympics come around, the onsen that allow tattooed customers will be getting a lot of business.

Source: NicoNico News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese government encouraging hot springs to ease tattoo restrictions

-- Onsen in Nagano will now welcome foreigners with tattoos, as long as they patch ’em up

-- No digital ink here – Yokohama tattoo parlor churning out amazing anime art

© SoraNews24

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85 Comments
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Do tattoos fall under one of those categories? Keita argues that it doesn’t even necessarily matter.

That is untrue. It doesn't matter. If tattoo doesn't fall under one of the categories then it cannot be covered by the law. While I understand the Japanese stigma about tattoos, I think its ridiculous. The visitors, especially those from foreign countries, are not Yakuza. Some people have tattoos for religious reasons. Those that have them for those reasons who are told they cannot enter have a proper case towards discrimination.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

“This is Japan, so they should respect Japan’s culture of tattoos representing criminals and not wanting to bathe with criminals. Just like we would respect their cultures if we went to their countries.”

Whomever wrote this needs to get out of the house more often!

I often see all sorts of Japanese people today, both young and old, sporting ink, and I guarantee you they are neither criminals nor yakuza either!

One that sticks out, was a young mother with two children at my local supermarket. She had an exquisitely inked butterfly on her shoulder. She works as a day care provider near my house!

19 ( +24 / -5 )

“The tattoo ban is a ban on yakuza. It’s not that Japan hates foreigners’ tattoo culture, we just hate the yakuza.”

“Stop trying to dilute Japan’s culture.”

Foreigners can't be Yakuza so therefore there is zero logic to a blanket tattoo ban.

Dilute your culture? Then the solution is to exclude people from your culture? Seems the only dilution of culture here would be the dilution of Japan's grand old tradition of rules for rules sake.

19 ( +24 / -5 )

Not just hot springs, gyms, swimming pools, some resturants, bars.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Just like we would respect their cultures if we went to their countries.

Japanese tourists "respect" other cultures when they visit other countries?

I spit my coffee up on this one too!

18 ( +26 / -8 )

“The tattoo ban is a ban on yakuza. It’s not that Japan hates foreigners’ tattoo culture, we just hate the yakuza.”

Then why are there so many yakuza?

Also, fair enough; however, let’s have some common sense about us. A foreigner that doesn’t speak Japanese and isn’t Asian with his family name stabbed into his back is very unlikely to be Yak.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

I think tattoos are unappealing and lament the rise in popularity of this 'art' on people's skin. Seems like the herd mentality is alive and well in my neck of the woods where something like 75% of people have visible tattoos.

That said, establishments in Japan are going to have to be more flexible with foreigners and tatts, and some places in Japan are doing just that

3 ( +13 / -10 )

“This is Japan, so they should respect Japan’s culture of tattoos representing criminals and not wanting to bathe with criminals. Just like we would respect their cultures if we went to their countries.”

I'm not visiting here. I'm a resident, pay taxes, employ Japanese citizens, and support a Japanese wife and children.

I'm more a contributing member of society than many Japanese people. I'm not a guest. They've vetted me, and decided that I'm allowed to live her permanently.

I have lots of tattoos. I'm a tax-paying contributing member of society.

The idea that I'm a criminal is well, pretty stupid. On an intelligence level.

Fortunately, I've also never been asked to leave an onsen, even though I go 3-4 times a year, so it's a non-issue for me.

11 ( +16 / -5 )

 think tattoos are unappealing and lament the rise in popularity of this 'art' on people's skin. Seems like the herd mentality is alive and well in my neck of the woods where something like 75% of people have visible tattoos.

oldman_13

Tattoos are not a new thing. Also, its not a recent trend when people have been getting tattoos as a popular sentiment for over 70 years. Also, in many cultures, even today, tattoos serve great significance to one's culture and religion.

Ancient Egyptians, Samoans, Native Americans, Inca, Mayans, and even the Ainu of Japan, long before it became a negative stigma used tattoos.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Tattoos are weird in that you either like them, or feel you have the right to express disgust about people who get them.

Seems legit.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It is refreshing to visit a hot spring and be free of the sight of disgusting tattoos.

-12 ( +7 / -19 )

I don't like tattoos, but I see no need to hate on people who have them.

I'm happy with letting people with tattoos into the baths, but don't let/make them wear swimsuits. That's stupid and will end up causing people who don't wear swimsuits to feel self-conscious.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Japan just needs to get with the times. Tattoos might have been associated with yakuza back in the day but it isn't anymore. If tattoo equals yakuza, then why are there so many ink shops?

Tats are a personal choice and so is looking at them. I can see how some might feel uncomfortable looking at them. But I don't think discriminating against those with tats is reasonable. They should be allowed to bathe too.

If onsens don't change their way, then the ones that allow tats will be reaping in the big bucks next year during the Olympics!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

As Bugle Boy, I don't like tatts (except maybe a small one well-placed on a nice body), but I don't have a problem with people with tattoos. I understand the yak connection, but in this age I think the Japanese society should open more, many young people, artists, etc. sport them. I guess the onsen policy also has something to do with the fact that nobody wants to tell a yakuza dude he is not allowed in because he is yakuza, so they use the tattoo rule.

By the way, there is a no tatts policy even at Toshimaen, a big amusement park in Tokyo!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I hate the phrase “this is Japan and so....”

Narrow mindset is useless! So start thinking global and make Japan better. Because some old cultural things have to change soon or later.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

The visitors, especially those from foreign countries, are not Yakuza. Some people have tattoos for religious reasons. Those that have them for those reasons who are told they cannot enter have a proper case towards discrimination.'

Thats a pretty good point - what if the tattoo is a cross or buddha or whatever religious symbol..? .than the religious discrimination could probably be successfully argued.

One that sticks out, was a young mother with two children at my local supermarket. She had an exquisitely inked butterfly on her shoulder. She works as a day care provider near my house!'

Right on...and nothing about her tattoo makes her any less of a daycare worker I bet....I also wonder how many foreign yakuza with tattoes of butterflies, dolphins, foreign names or phrases etc etc there are?...that "logic  of " “This is Japan, so they should respect Japan’s culture of tattoos representing criminals and not wanting to bathe with criminals"  makes zero sense when it comes to banning foreigners from onsens and gyms.

they should respect Japan’s culture of tattoos representing criminals and not wanting to bathe with criminals. Just like we would respect their cultures if we went to their countries.”

You should tell that to the couple of Kansai ben idiots I had to tell off for climbing up on top of a WW2 memorial to take pics of themselves last time I went back home...and guess what,  they had no tats....there are disrespectful idiots of all nationalities,  whether they have some ink or not has no bearing on it in most cases.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

What if someone has a Mickey Mouse tattoo?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

When a "rule" becomes a "cultural" asset....there is a problem. I have personal rules and they have changed overtime as my life changed. If I still abided blindly by my original rules I'd be sleeping with a Teddy bear, under my magic blanket.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Then why are there so many yakuza?

Ask the LDP?

Has anyone ever seen a yakuza ejected from a hot spring? I've seen them bathing at leisure with beer, tattoos and all.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

What if someone has a Mickey Mouse tattoo?

Must be a high rank Yak then.:)

9 ( +9 / -0 )

"It is refreshing to visit a hot spring and be free of the sight of disgusting tattoos."

might need a bit more refreshing than a hot Spring, perhaps medication? and actually relaxing rather than looking for things to stress you out? A job in art valuation maybe?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"...when the 2020 Tokyo Olympics come around, the onsen that allow tattooed customers will be getting a lot of business."

Not sure who's going to an onsen in the summertime but...ok.

Regardless, an activity which WILL draw foreigners during the Olympics are Japan's public beaches. 

And despite the nice try by the author and Mr. Keita to make it sound as if only private establishments enact these draconian tattoo bans - Japan's public beaches do it too.

Oh well, maybe in another 100 years or so they'll stop being so square.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

"It’s not that Japan hates foreigners’ tattoo culture, we just hate the yakuza.”

This is a pile of nonsense. Go to any water park in the summertime. Walk past the signs outside, explaining in (often garbled) English that tattoos are prohibited, and give your money to the 19-year-old kid or 70-year-old lady at the ticket office. Then get changed and head to the pools and will see Yaks in there, full-body tattoos, with their equally-inked ladyfriends, having as good a time as anybody else there.

Because once a Yak decides he's coming in, he's coming in. And nobody making 900 yen an hour is going to try to stop him.

Go to Kashiwa Bondori and count the fingers of the huge guys running the okonomiyaki stalls.

Japanese have no trouble pretending the Yaks aren't there. If they hated them, and pressured the authorities to do something about them, something could be done.

This is simply a "We Japanese..." blanket bit of Us-V-Them self-delusion, which has the effect of making it easier to avoid dealing with non-Japanese. Some would call this shyness. Others would call it societal racism.

I can't stand tattoos, but the fact is that they're very popular among non-Japanese who have money to spend. If Japan is putting all its economic recovery eggs in the tourism basket, the rubber-stamp fogies are going to have to start thinking for a change.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Foreigners can't be Yakuza 

I have a book that says about 15 to 20% of the yakuza ranks are composed of Japan-born Koreans, so you need to qualify that statement.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Dunno about Japan, but where I live most tatoos aren't original. If I wanted to see the powerpuff girls or hello kitty or even Mickey mouse, I'd just watch the cartoons. No need to tell me how much they mean to you.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

“Tattoos being a sign of a criminal, yakuza, or idiot is super helpful, I say we keep the system as it is.”

I concur with that...

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

If Japan is putting all its economic recovery eggs in the tourism basket, the rubber-stamp fogies are going to have to start thinking for a change."

"Rubber stamp foggies "...lol...love that one ...if you don,t mind I,m totally stealing it ;-)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Foreigners can't be Yakuza 

I have a book that says about 15 to 20% of the yakuza ranks are composed of Japan-born Koreans, so you need to qualify that statement."

Well, if Japan was the same as any other normal country the people born in Japan , would be classified as ...you know...Japanese. ( regardless of where their granddparents originally came from )

11 ( +11 / -0 )

It is refreshing to visit a hot spring and be free of the sight of disgusting tattoos.

Right? I feel the same way about ugly feet, overweight bodies, surgical scars, eyeglass frames without lenses, and everything else that I find aesthetically unappealing. I think all establishments should ban those things I find disgusting.

/s

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Being barred from a sento is nothing compared to the perils of being a Japanese corporate employee and having a tattoo. A friend of my daughter's was fired by his company, and another was told that she could not qualify for national health insurance with matching funds provided by her employer. Clear cases of discrimination and 出る釘は打たれる.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It is refreshing to visit a hot spring and be free of the sight of disgusting tattoos.

Haha with people thinking like that we're gonna ban old people and fat people too then, some may find them disgusting to look at. Oh and may be also ban gay people? because they could be looking at other men in an erotic way!

Oh by the way, why are you looking at other people in the onsen ??

2 ( +4 / -2 )

“This is Japan, so they should respect Japan’s culture of tattoos representing criminals and not wanting to bathe with criminals. Just like we would respect their cultures if we went to their countries.”

And how about try to use the neurons inside the brains?

I don't think that a foreign person belong to the crime syndicate from Japan,and obviously he or she is not associated with the local criminality.

This is just a mere excuse to impose their way without trying to analyze logically the background or provenience of the people.

Welcome to the...1950es

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Here lies Japans problem with having 1 rule and using common sense to uphold or bend it accordingly. Shortly after I came to Japan my sister was visiting and went to use a hotel hot spring. She was in the bath when an employee came in, ordered her out, covered her with a towel and marched her to the front desk where the male manager started pointing at a sign in Japanese and shouted Yakuza at her. My sister is a western girl and only has a small sun tattoo on her right shoulder, blatantly not a yak, she started crying saying she didn't understand and left very upset.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

*not using common sense to uphold or bend it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

never seen yak denied from onsen or even from public pool, even at meguroku in summer outdoor one you can see em, full on tatoos too,the guards make themselves invisible.. they only use the rule when they feel like harassing people and it only typically applies to people they perceive as weaker., or if some obasan complains.

also , honestly even though there are signs.. no proper onsen cares.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I remember years ago my family and I went to a local Onsen in Gero in Gifu prefecture,a nice and lovely one but relatively small.

And then this mid age guy came inside with his back fully tattooed,we didn't need to make out math to understand the situation.

So there you go,they use two different rules for themselves and the "outsiders".

As I pointed before stubbornness and narrow minds rule their society.

It might change in the future,but let's be realistic here,I think none of us will live long enough to see such changes.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

we hate the yakuza.

this is terrorism and discriminating stance against yak...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

TOKYO

Japan’s history with tattoos is quite different than many other countries.

"quite different than many other countries" is a pretty weasel-worded way to make sweeping statements that are really pretty Eurocentric.

Actually, Japan's history is pretty much the same as it's big neighbors. China also used tattoos to mark criminals. Korea also has some history of using tattoos to mark criminals.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Coming to Japan, as a tourist means a acquiring a certain amount of knowledge before arrivalthe would apply to visiting Saudi Arabia or the US.

Got a tat then refrain from taking a public bath...

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Like it says in the story, this is generallized culural bias vs logic. Attiudes will change once the50-60+ generations are long gone until then dont expect alot.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

“This is Japan, so they should respect Japan’s culture of tattoos representing criminals and not wanting to bathe with criminals.

If this is about criminals and organized crime, is it ok to ban LDP members since they are the biggest and worst crime sydicate of all?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Just like we would respect their cultures if we went to their countries.

Japanese tourists "respect" other cultures when they visit other countries?

> I spit my coffee up on this one too!

Same. Only I was drinking an energy drink

4 ( +6 / -2 )

As Bugle Boy, I don't like tatts (except maybe a small one well-placed on a nice body),

Yeah like the woman who had a small fish tattooed on her abdomen and it turned into a whale when she got pregnant!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Japan is an island nation. Japan was a closed island nation up until 200 odd years ago. Yes, Japan has a unique culture. A unique culture of being selfish and unwavering towards foreign people and cultures. Japan is still a closed country in many ways.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Article 14 of the Japanese constitution is all about equality, how discrimination based on “political, economic or social relations on account of race, creed, sex, social status, caste or national origin” is illegal.

I feel like Article 14 is Japan's greatest hidden secret!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Oh by the way, why are you looking at other people in the onsen ??

what does that matter? I look at people in the Hot Springs. For the same reason I look at people outside the Hot Springs. Because I’m curious

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If I actually had a tattoo, though, I would go into these places just to see what they would do. Does anyone have any experience like that?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Are Japanese yakuza so nice that they will just any rules you throw at them ? Or is it people trying to make them look good as a way to themselves look good ? or is it just that the ban as nothing to do with yakuza to begin with but more linked to ainu, political criminal, ...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And another was told that she could not qualify for national health insurance with matching funds provided by her employe

Wow...seriously? Cant get proper employer health insurance contribution because of a tattoo? Unbelievable...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

And another was told that she could not qualify for national health insurance with matching funds provided by her employer

Wow...seriously? Cant get proper employer health insurance contribution because of a tattoo? Unbelievable...

Not in Japan. Rules are rules, no matter how dumb they are.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Shortly after I came to Japan my sister was visiting and went to use a hotel hot spring. She was in the bath when an employee came in, ordered her out, covered her with a towel and marched her to the front desk where the male manager started pointing at a sign in Japanese and shouted Yakuza at her. My sister is a western girl and only has a small sun tattoo on her right shoulder, blatantly not a yak, she started crying saying she didn't understand and left very upset.

Next time J-govt / media goes on its perpetual self pat on a shoulder exercise again , this kind of example should be brought up to their attention...hows that for omotenashi?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

To associate tattooed foreigners with the Yakuza or criminals is simply absurd. Clearly these people are not Yakuza, and countless Japanese criminals use onsen without anyone realizing it, so neither is a valid excuse.

Not liking tattoos doesn't work either. If I say I don't like dyed hair, no one is going to support my right to visit a shopping mall or restaurant without seeing dyed hair. It's a personal dislike and has absolutely no bearing on what you have an actual right to see or not see.

As for respecting Japan's ways, that only goes so far. A growing number of young people in Japan don't care about tattoos and fully understand that a great many foreigners have them. And when you're talking about something that hurts none, either physically or psychologically, it looks increasingly weak.

Everyone knows that tattoos are not and have never been the exclusive province of criminals, Japanese or otherwise. It's long past time to stop holding onto beliefs that do not reflect reality in any way shape or form.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

“The tattoo ban is a ban on yakuza. It’s not that Japan hates foreigners’ tattoo culture, we just hate the yakuza.”

And yet, 1) If a yakuza member were truly determined to get in, you would let them in. And 2) the foreigners are very, very unlikely to be yakuza, so they should be allowed in if the only rationale for keeping them out is that you dislike the yakuza.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I can tell you from experience that any good tattoo artist in Japan is either current or former Yakuza. And most Yakuza technically are foreign - Zainichi Koreans.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Actually the Yakuza was originally all Korean. They filled a void directly after the war and smuggled food into the country to deal with the food shortage and worked with the Americans. They served a purpose.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Its racism. There are no foreign yakuza. And yakuza tattoos are Japanese characterised irezumi.

All this excusing the bans to do with yakuza. All Japanese know exactly what a yakuza and his tattoos look like - and it's not some large white westerner with 'Tupac' on his neck or 'Love/Hate' across his knuckles.

As far as I know there are no foreign yakuza except for the half-Japanese and certainly no westerners.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

True story - when I applied for insurance here and met the insurer I answered that I had a small tattoo. I don't look Japanese and my wife was translating for me (so clearly not Japanese). Yet they insisted that I show them the small tattoo on my arm. Just bizarre. I got the insurance but I wonder exactly what kind of small tattoo on an arm will disqualify a foreigner from Japanese insurance.....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I can understand the full body and arm tats may come across as looking like a yak but like another poster commented, that they saw someone with a Micky mouse tat, my son has two tats, one that has two tumbling dice, although there is a deeper meaning they saying "life is a gamble" and it is, and the other one is his mums date of when she died. there is nothing harmless about that is there??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There's no point in arguing - once people have made up their minds, you may as well talk to the wall.

I was talking to a young lawyer couple of years ago, when the ludicrous popinjay Hashimoto had decided every public employee in his Osaka fiefdom had to declare whether or not they had a tattoo under their clothes where nobody could see it.

He justified Hashimoto's actions by saying, "We Japanese are afraid of tattoos because it means criminal"

So then we had a back and forth about the differences between the full ink suit worn by yaks and a small rose on a young lady's ankle. He obviously agreed that they're totally different and the latter obviously wasn't a yak.

"So, OK - would you mind if a young lady with the little rose tattoo wanted to use an onsen?"

"Yes - we Japanese are afraid of tattoos because it means criminal".

This was a lawyer, a practising prosecutor. Totally incapable of critical thought.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Does this reasoning mean that onsens will also ban automotive car executives and tv comedians...?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I can tell you from experience that any good tattoo artist in Japan is either current or former Yakuza.

Would love to hear about that experience ...you live in Australia , so I gues are not yakuza and have no tats, right? ..so how did that experience eventuate?

And most Yakuza technically are foreign - Zainichi Koreans.

You have the supporting numbers on their membership composition ?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Gaijinland

Actually the Yakuza was originally all Korean.

No they were not. They were originally part of the burakumin class in Japan that were often oppressed and discriminated against because of the type of work they were involved in. Burakumin typically owned butcher shops and burial rites companies.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Its simple racism in Japan. I was refused at Tokyo Dome City onsen years ago when I told them I had a small tattoo. I could'nt speak much Japanese then and was clearly a foreigner. So the refusal was just racist and nothing to do with yakuza.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I predict the government will intervent and lift the tattoo ban for the Olympics. After that, it will probably not be reinstated in most places.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I predict the government will intervent and lift the tattoo ban for the Olympics. After that, it will probably not be reinstated in most places.

Obviously it is a non-issue with sports. You are aware that Japan hosted several foreigners with tattoos during the Rugby World Cup, right?

The question is, how will these people be received at non-sport related venues?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Its simple racism in Japan. I was refused at Tokyo Dome City onsen years ago when I told them I had a small tattoo. I could'nt speak much Japanese then and was clearly a foreigner. So the refusal was just racist and nothing to do with yakuza.

Two things. Don't volunteer information about your tattoo. And it's not racism - even if you choose to believe that and feel offended. It's a rule and Japanese like rules. Befriend someone who runs a bath house and they will happily let you in - as long as nobody knows they are "breaking" the rules.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Bugle Boy of Company BToday  07:19 pm JST

Befriend someone who runs a bath house and they will happily let you in 

Riiiiight...because that's why sports tourists typically travel half way around the world. And nobody has a bath in their hotel room?

To most rational people, you have a bath, or a shower, then get out and enjoy your holiday. What the Japan Tourist Board has failed to recognise is that people who were not raised here often expect more from a holiday than sitting in other people's bollock-water.

If people with tattoos don't get into onsens, they will say "F that, let's get to the bar/club/ anywhere else you can enjoy yourself and spend our money there"

The institutionalised racism of business owners who pretend not to be able to discern between different forms of tattoo will do nothing beyond a) funnelling tourist yen into more enlightened business owners' pockets, and b) making sure OMOTENASHI is revealed all over the world to have been an out-and-out lie.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I have tattoos and I've been to numerous 'NO TATTOOS' onsen without a problem.

The ban is absolutely a ban on Yakuza. People don't care when a white guy with tattoos shows up.

...And even if a tattooed Yakuza showed up, I doubt anyone would have the balls to do a damn thing about it.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I predict the government will intervent and lift the tattoo ban for the Olympics. After that, it will probably not be reinstated in most places.

Never forget, just because the government may do something, does not mean that people will follow!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In at least 1 other culture, certain types of tattoos are often seen as a lack of morality marker, so perhaps the Japanese cultural "criminal" though about tattoos isn't too far off?

Back when I was single, looking for a tattoo on my potential date was almost always a good sign. ;)

I don't have any tattoos and never seriously considered getting a permanent one, though some of the temporary ones have been fun over the decades for vacations.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Japanese gangsters really freak people out here. I was in a karoke bar with some Japanese friends and relative. There were other people there too having a good time. Then this guy came in by himself who had a big gash running up and down the side of his face. Boy, oh boy, did that place clear out fast. You can see how easy it would be to extort money from Japanese businesses.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My family went to the sento almost every night while I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. There were guys with heavily tattooed bodies, but nobody paid any attention to them. I sat next to them many times without thinking about it. We went to the sento even though we had a bath because it was a also social event, a place to meet our friends. What happened?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And it's not racism - even if you choose to believe that and feel offended. It's a rule and Japanese like rules. 

It was racism. Not that I 'chose' to believe that but due to the fact that there is no law in Japan prohibiting a westerner with a small tattoo from visiting onsen in the middle of Tokyo. Read the article.

Since those days I learned not to offer up that I have a small tattoo, and the fact that I have never been objected proves that it was racism and not based on any law.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It was racism.

No it wasn’t. They deny Japanese people with tattoos too. It’s not down racial lines.

You’re pulling the card a little too quickly.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Strangers, I never pull that card too quickly as this is my home and my family are Japanese. But that card does get pulled here. How come we got the big message in English before the rugby world cup? How come these messages are put up in English? How come we have never ever read about anyone Japanese being refused entry?

The fact that it is well known that many westerners sport tattoos as a fashion makes these onsens racist. Because they are in the foreign tourist industry and should be accepting of other cultures. Especially in the middle of Tokyo.

If the onsens just don't like the look of tattoos they should say that instead of pinning it on the yakuza thing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How come we got the big message in English before the rugby world cup?

They post the messages in Japanese in places where it is banned too.

How come these messages are put up in English?

Because most of the world cannot speak Japanese, and English is the common tongue.

How come we have never ever read about anyone Japanese being refused entry?

Because they don't even try to go. Japanese people know when they get tattoos that they will not be allowed entry.

The fact that it is well known that many westerners sport tattoos as a fashion makes these onsens racist.

Nope. You're pulling the race card, and you're wrong on it.

How can it be racist when the same rules apply to the Japanese? Think that through.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I’ve been to my local onsen over a hundred times or so and have never seen Japanese there with tats but I’ve seen foreigners get kicked out for having them...

Sentos accept with exceptions but rare for me to see a tattoo in an onsen here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Article 14 of the Japanese constitution is all about equality, how discrimination based on “political, economic or social relations on account of race, creed, sex, social status, caste or national origin” is illegal.

Do tattoos fall under one of those categories

We can show that in specific cases, it absolutely does - New Zealand Maoris, for instance, they are deeply related to these. Therefore, to discriminate against a Maori with tattoos would breach Article 14. It would not necessarily for other people.

You could also argue the same for Nazi concentration camp survivors, but I think it is unlikely that many are going to be visiting onsen given that only a handful are still alive.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I’ve been to my local onsen over a hundred times or so and have never seen Japanese there with tats but I’ve seen foreigners get kicked out for having them...

Sentos accept with exceptions but rare for me to see a tattoo in an onsen here.

For me it's the opposite - I've been asked to leave a sento, never asked to leave an onsen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yaks tend to only frequent 'their place' which is a certain sento or bath house where the owner is known to accept them and the other bathers don't get freaked out by them. I know one in my neighbourhood like that and they just don't bother with the others.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Do tramp stamp tats count as a bad thing?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's so simple.

Just make onsens with three sections. 1. Men 2. Women 3. No tats (if you hate tats you come to this one, regardless of sex.)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Krisipis:

I’ve been to my local onsen over a hundred times or so and have never seen Japanese there with tats but I’ve seen foreigners get kicked out for having them...

Sentos accept with exceptions but rare for me to see a tattoo in an onsen here.

That sounds strange. Afaik, sento are required to allow everybody, including with tatoos, while privately owned onsen make the decision themselves. Fwiw, I see a lot of yakuza tatoos in my local sento.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Any business can refuse to offer a service to Anyo e-that is a business decision.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Funny thing is that many newer Yakuza are not getting tattoos. They are trying harder to blend in than before. Only the younger generation getting tattoos that mean nothing to them but art that will fade and get distorted with age. My 4 tats have a derp personal meaning. The Millies haven’t a clue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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